A new trend in Instagram is user generated beauty contests and it has to be one of the most concerning trends of 2013.
Within a short space of time, Instagram has become so much more than a platform for sharing harmless snapshots of pets and holidays. Now there are online beauty contests that encourage teen and tween girls (as young as 9) to upload pictures of themselves with the hashtag #beautycontest. Other Instagram users then vote on the pictures. Once a photo receives a certain number of negative remarks, a red X is placed over a girl’s picture to show she has been eliminated. The last photo left is the winner.
This shocking concept deserves a multitude of red X’s!!!!XXXXXXX Not only is it compromising the privacy and security of young girls but it is without a doubt devastating self-esteems around the planet.
Sharing private information online is a very risky business. Most users have their accounts linked to their Facebook or Twitter accounts making it much easier for ‘strangers’ to identify and contact the girls. The availability of their personal details also increases the chances of these young girls becoming victims of identity theft.
But as a parent, the biggest concern is the potential damage to a child’s self-esteem. Being rejected at any age is a bitter pill to swallow but in the super vulnerable teen years in front of the entire online world – well it can’t really get any worse. We all know that teenagers (and teenage girls in particular) are super vulnerable to peer pressure. Comments made about them can have intense impacts on their self-esteem and ability to form healthy identities.
American Child psychologist Dr Elizabeth Gosch wants parents to be on alert to the detrimental effects that negative feedback on appearance can have on a girl’s development at such a critical age.
“Body dissatisfaction does predict later drops in self-esteem which then predicts other problems such as substance use, anxiety, depression, early sexual behaviour and other things like that,” Dr Gosch said.
As parents, it is critical that we pay close attention to our children’s online activity. Being a part of your child’s digital world, monitoring their behaviour for anything unusual and making yourself available to them if there are any problems are some of the best ways we can help our kids stay safe online.